Interesting narrative of an escaped Confederate prisoner.
Wm. C. Bramlet
, of the 8th Virginia cavalry, was captured in November last and carried to Camp Chase, near Columbus, Ohio
He escaped and arrived in Charleston, S. C.
, a few days ago. The narrative of his escape and adventures as communicated to the Charleston Courier
, are very interesting:
He was kept in close confinement until March, a period of five months. On the 12th of March some laborers being sent into the prison to ditch the prison grounds, Mr. Bramlet
entered into conversation with them, and finding them Southern men in principle, informed them that he meditated an escape.
They at once expressed their sympathies with his condition, and offered to assist him as far as lay in their power.
He suggested as the most feasible plan a change of clothing in his barracks, substituting a laborer's suit for the uniform he then were.
The laborer's suit was procured, the change made, and being furnished with a spade, he joined the laborers about half an hour before sunset, leaving the grounds with them at the hour of closing.
Following his new companions to the tool house, he, with the rest, deposited his spade, passed on through the Yankee
camp and outside of their pickets to the turnpike.
The party there seated themselves on a lumber wagon used for bringing up the plank for the repair of the prison walls, and were taken to Columbus
Upon the arrival at Columbus
, one of the laborers, to avoid any suspicion, motioned Mr. Bramlet
to follow him, and commenced talking very violently in the Celtic
tongue, our friend apparently answering and nodding assent.
They passed on through one of the principal streets, turned into an alley, and from thence to the cottage of the laborer.
Here Mr. Bramlet
remained until about ten o'clock, when his friend told him that, as everything was them quiet, it might be unsafe for him to remain in the city, and it would be well for him to continue on his road.
His friend guided him through a back street to the turnpike, and accompanied him on his way to a plank road about a mile distant, where he gave the necessary directions, as to how he should proceed.
traveled all that day; but having just recovered from a severe attack of typhoid fever, he was unable to make any fast progress, and found that he only walked that day fourteen miles. Arriving, about half an hour before sunset, at a station called Louis Centre, and seeing an express train come up, he stepped into the car and took a seat.
Upon the conductor's asking him for a ticket, he replied he had none, but that he wished to go to Sandusky
, that he had but one dollar with him and would ride as far as that would pay.
The conductor took his dollar and told him to get off at Crystalline Station.
Walking on about a mile from this station, he stopped all night with a German, and next day walked seven miles and a half, leaving upon an elder stick, being otherwise completely broken down.
He stayed that night with a young man, who shared his supper with him, and the next morning again started.
Coming across some laborers working on the railroad from Columbus
, he was asked as to his lameness.
He told them that he was a Canadian by birth, had emigrated to the southern part of Ohio
just before the breaking out of the war, had taken the typhoid fever, which had fallen into his limbs and made him a cripple, and that he was endeavoring to get home to his friends in Canada
.--One of the laborers gave him a quarter of a dollar.
With only this in his pocket, he got aboard the next train, and told the conductor he wished to get to Sandusky
, but had only twenty-five cents, with which he desired to go as far as possible.
The conductor informed him where he would get off, but on arrival at the place and as he was about to leave the car, the conductor, seeing his condition, kindly told him to keep his seat, and that he would take him to Sandusky
He arrived in Sandusky
in the evening, without money, and in a state of starvation.
His only clothes were the laborer's suit, ragged and dirty.
A group of boys observing him, one of them cried out, ‘"I believe that fellow is an escaped prisoner."’ Another responded, ‘"Yes, I believe it is old Jeff. Davis
himself."’ Hearing this he became excited, but seemingly paying no attention, forgot his lameness, and walked off as rapidly as possible.
Keeping on for about two miles, and finding no pursuit, the excitement subsided, and a reaction took place, and he was again as lame as before.
It was now raining, with hail and snow falling, and blowing a gale from the Northeast
With his thin, ragged clothing, for which he had exchanged his warm Southern uniform, it seemed as though every blast penetrated through him, and he was in danger of freezing to death.
Upon asking several to be allowed the privilege of staying all night, telling them his penniless condition, he was refused.
Continuing his journey, he lost his way on a road that led off into a clearing instead of a farm-house, as he had supposed.
Night came on, the rain still falling, with a cold, bitter wind piercing him through and through, almost depriving him of all sensibility of feeling.
At times he would sink knee-deep in the swamp and mud, extricating himself only by creeping on his hands and knees.
At another time he became lost in the forest, got entangled among the thorn thickets, and several times gave up in despair, submitting himself to fate.
Finding a box of matches in one of his pockets, he determined on one more effort, and getting a few dry chips, pulled off the bark of an old hollow tree and succeeded in starting a fire.
By means of fence rails he was enabled to keep up this fire, and standing over it, managed to keep from freezing until daylight.
Although paralyzed in mbs and benumbed as he was, he succeeded in crossing another strip of woods, came up to a fence, and the welcome sight of a farm-house greeted his eyes.
Upon calling at the gate he was invited in and sat down to warm himself, but was compelled shortly after, from a sickening sensation, to go out on the porch for ventilation.
Upon his return, the farmer gave him a second invitation to take breakfast with him, which he accepted with grateful thanks.
The storm continued, and the farmer insisted upon his staying till it was over.
To his inquiries.
repeated the story of his Canadian
birth, and said he would like to get work in order to get the means to continue his journey.
The farmer immediately recommended him to a neighbor who had been inquiring for laborers.
, after again thanking the farmer, started for the place to which he had been directed, but mistaking the house, stopped at another farm-house, the proprietor of which was an Irishman, who invited him in. Here he disclosed his true character.
had been a day or two before to Sandusky
, to collect some dues of a merchant, who it seems was an Abolitionist, and who he discovered, upon his arrival home, had defrauded him.
While Mr. Bramlet
was there this man commenced cursing the Yankees
He called them bloody Yankee dogs, &c., men who had robbed him ever since he came from the old country, and he wished the Confederates
would cut them to pieces.
hearing this took the farmer aside and asked him to give his word of honor that he would not reveal what he wished to disclose.
He replied he would if it was anything honorable, if not he had better keep it. Mr. Bramlet
then told him he was a Southerner and a military prisoner, endeavoring to make his way into Canada
The farmer grasped his hand, said his heart was with him, but that he was a poor man, not able to do much in the way of assisting him. He referred him, however, to a gentleman, the one who had inquired for laborers, saying that he was a friend to the South
, a good Democrat who expressed himself openly, was wealthy, and would, he felt assured, be glad to aid him.
started, and upon arriving at the place saw the proprietor in the yard.
He told him that he had been recommended to him to get work.
They reply was, that he had thought of hiring, but the weather being fine he thought, with the assistance of his boys, and money matters rather tight, he would be able to manage with what help he had. He asked Mr. Bramlet
what he could do. The reply was, anything.
The proprietor scanned him very closely, and did not seem to like his appearance.
Seeing he was not likely to succeed, Mr. Bramlet
revealed his true condition.
He was immediately welcomed in, and here he staid for two weeks, until he had wholly recovered from his lameness.
The proprietor then furnished him the means to continue his journey.
went to Sandusky
, thence to Toledo
, from there to Detroit
, and getting on board a ferry boat was landed upon the Canadian
side, at a place called Windsor, Upper Canada
There he met the Honorable Mr. Elliott
's Consul, who invited him to his place at London
He was hospitably and kindly received by the citizens of that place, and a contribution made up for him. He was also given free trans port, or right of way, on the Grand Trunk Railway to Quebec
, with a letter of introduction to the Hon. Mr. Portman
, M. P., an intimate friend of General Wade Hampton
P. and his friends here made up another contribution, by which means he was enabled to reach St. Johns
, N. B., from whence he embarked on board the schooner Blanche
, on the 7th of June, and arrived at Nassau
on the 24th.
is now in this city.
He says he found the people of Canada
, much to his astonishment, almost a unit in favor of the South
He had been led to believe that the Canadians were all abolitionists, whereas, on the contrary, he found but two during his stay, and those were Yankee traders, who had settled there on speculation.
say the free negroes are a great evil in the community.
These negroes, they say, who are run into Canada
by the Abolition fanatics, are the only paupers and pauper population they have.
In some places they are taxed pretty heavily for the support of this part of their population.
They are a lazy, thriftless set, some of them starving themselves in their wretchedness rather than work.
The Government has frequently to make contributions to them.
would rejoice to see them all packed off South
, where they might be made useful.
, Mr. Bramlet
says, are really Northern men with Southern proclivities.